In the shadow of bridges

Editor's note: This is the final article in a series about a 328-mile canoe expedition from Plattsburgh to NYC conducted in September of 1988 with Joe Hackett and members of the 46th Talavera, British Armed Forces.

A year after our expedition, Sgt. Joe Strachan of the 46th Talavera, Royal Artillery, returned to the United States with his family in August of 1989. At the time, he was on leave from a new posting, where he was on loan from the British Armed Forces training the Royal Guard for the Sultan of Oman.

Sgt. Strachan and the family stayed with us in Lake Placid for a few days. He told about a near miss that occurred the previous year during our canoe trip to New York City.

As he explained, upon the group's return to their base in Germany, the entire group was extensively debriefed by British Intelligence officers.

Despite several days of extensive and lengthy interviews, the soldiers were not informed of the purpose until everyone had been thoroughly processed.

The reason for the interviews was to ascertain if anyone in the group had any idea of the plot. It seems that there was to be an attempted hit on the group. It was scheduled to happen during a Key to the City ceremony with Albany's Mayor Whalen at Corning Preserve on the Hudson in Albany.

Fortunately, the attempt was foiled due to foul weather that had delayed our arrival. The event was canceled unexpectedly and no reason was provided. This was because we did not have access to a phone along the Champlain Canal and I couldn't get in touch with the proper authorities to inform them that we would not be able to attend as scheduled.

Sgt. Strachan explained that a copy of our complete itinerary, which had been provided to Short Bros. in Belfast, fell into the wrong hands. British Intelligence uncovered the plot when word was received in Ireland that the attempt failed because there was no one to hit. It was ironic that the group spent the evening following the proposed strike swigging ale in an Irish pub in Albany. It was located within walking distance of the location of the proposed ceremony.

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